What the Food Stamp Explosion Says

In a letter to the editor, published in the Northern Wyoming Daily News, Bruce L. Hargraves, USN Retired, wrote: "I object and take exception to everyone saying that Obama and Congress are spending money like a drunken sailor. As a former drunken sailor, I quit when I ran out of money."

It is obvious they have no intention of scaling back, let alone quitting until they have run out of everybody's money and credit. The debt ceiling war wound up a meaningless and petty duel between two political parties. Both were still committed to cutting little and to pushing the cuts out over as many years as they could get away with, while borrowing more to spend as quickly as possible. The president watched the spectacle, grinning like a Cheshire cat, certain his dish would soon be filled with another can of cash confiscated from you, me and our grandkids.

A pox on both Houses of Congress, both sides of their aisles, and especially the Thief-in-Chief at the White House. They're all guilty, but he's the guiltiest. He's wantonly thrown about hundreds of billions and drove the annual federal deficit to a record $1.6-trillion, a 220 percent increase from 2008. Public debt has increased by 55 percent since Obama took office. That can't be pushed backwards onto Bush or Clinton or Reagan or George Washington.

During this latest debt debate, the left has resorted to the common whine that the ceiling has been routinely raised again and again and again in previous administrations of both stripes. That's not technically true. When a Senator, in one of his few votes, Obama voted against raising it, and railed against doing so. But it has been raised. Which marries nicely with the classic definition of insanity: continuing to do the same things over and over, hoping for a different result.

So, let's see what we have purchased with all this spending and debt. The number of Americans receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, (formerly Food Stamps) has shot up on Obama's watch, from 27.9-million in 2008 to 44.6-million in 2011. In April this year, roughly 1 in 7 Americans got food stamps. A little-known fact is that many are allowed to use their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) food-stamp cards in fast food restaurants, not just to buy groceries. The July 25 edition of Nation's Restaurant News quoted government officials saying - incredibly - it is difficult to pinpoint how many are authorized to use their benefits in restaurants. Historically, the homeless who have no kitchens, the disabled who can't cook, and the elderly who won't cook have been able to patronize fast food chains using their food-stamp EBT cards.

That same article explained that using EBT cards in restaurants is a fast growing trend, and noted that, seeing opportunity in the Obama economy, the fast food industry is pushing for more recipients of the benefits to be able to spend them on Big Macs and even the dreaded Happy Meals. Fast food emporiums are getting more aggressive about advertising for these customers, trumpeting acceptance of EBTs.

Whether you think food-stamp recipients ought to have the option of buying sugar-loaded lattes and double-stuffed burritos on your dime may depend on what companies you own stock in. But consider the bigger point: an entire industry fully recognizes and foresees the welfare recipient population as a fast-growing target market. And just imagine its boom if we magically convert all the illegal immigrants to citizens.

If on Bush's watch the number of Americans qualifying for food stamps nearly doubled and the restaurant industry saw them as such a growing market it was advertising specifically to reach them, how much screaming do you think you'd be hearing about it everyday? When Reagan was president, nightly news routinely featured stories of the horrific homelessness epidemic. When was the last time you saw a mainstream news report pinning the epidemic of homeless military veterans, the homeless problem as a whole, or the explosion of food stamp beneficiaries on Obama?

In Los Angeles, about 1,200 fast food restaurants accept EBT cards - KFC, Subway, Dominos Pizza, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Jack in the Box, and Wingstop. Participating restaurants display window stickers advertising acceptance of EBT cards and are equipped with EBT-card processing machines, no troublesome food stamps needed.

Of course, these chains' managements invite even more government interference the more government money they take - the homeless eating there with EBT cards will have to be warned about fat grams.

Let's be very clear about Obama. He claims he's punishing the rich. He'll campaign on that as badge of honor. He's actually multiplying and punishing the poor. It was recently been suggested that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, having participated in the destruction of the real estate market and the creation of the foreclosure epidemic, should become the nation's landlord and rent out homes rather than finance them. The government has brutally wounded tens of millions, poured salt in their wounds and now wants to supply them with bandages. Let Obama go long enough and he'll have government attempting to house, feed, be the only doctor to, insure, and own all retirement funds of every citizen but a tiny number of rich he intends keeping yoked to the plow.

When the world finally faces the reality of what we've become - drunken sailors with no means of support, endlessly borrowing to support our addiction - it's gonna be brutal.